20 Stories

Bitcoins Soar to Major Milestone

Digital currency crosses $1K-mark

(Newser) - Bitcoins reached a major milestone today, with a single coin now worth more than $1,000—which is pretty impressive, given that they started the month just a bit north of $200, the Washington Post points out. Bitcoin has soared to these heights in part thanks to praise from the... More »

Movie Stock Exchange Proves Wall Street's Mad

Speculation doesn't really help anyone

(Newser) - The announcement that investors can soon buy “futures” in Hollywood movies, shouldn’t be too surprising—it’s the logical extension of what financial markets have become. Once tools for raising capital for real businesses, the markets “have turned themselves into high-tech casinos,” writes Steven Pearlstein of... More »

Brace Yourself, $3 Gas Is Coming Back

Average national price climbs, even though driving is down

(Newser) - Remember the good old days when gas was over $3? Well, get ready for some déjà vu. The average national price of a gallon climbed 4.7 cents last week alone, to $2.702, continuing a trend that saw it rise 76.8 cents over the past year, while... More »

Bernanke: Interest Rates May Rise

Fed chair leaves door open, but emphasizes reform

(Newser) - Ben Bernanke today left the door open to higher interest rates, saying the increase might be needed to prevent new speculative investment bubbles from forming. But for critics who blame the Fed for feeding that speculative housing boom by holding interest rates too low for too long after the 2001... More »

Garlic Investors Smell Money

Hoarding, speculation create garlic millionaires in China

(Newser) - A massive rise in demand for garlic is making plenty of people in China stinking rich. Prices in China—the world's largest garlic producer by far—have risen 15-fold in big cities and even more in far-flung regions. Two key factors seem to be behind it: garlic's reputed powers to... More »

New Speculator Fave: AIG Stock

Day-traders flock to shares on the upswing

(Newser) - AIG’s stock has become the hottest commodity on Wall Street in recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal reports. It’s not that anyone believes the insurer is on the verge of paying back the $80 billion it owes Uncle Sam. Rather, the stock has become the go-to casino for... More »

Banks Won't Honor Calif. IOUs

(Newser) - Major banks in California, including Bank of America and Wells Fargo, will stop honoring the state's IOUs after today, reports the Los Angeles Times. While some credit unions may cash the promissory notes, taxpayers and vendors who need cash may be tempted to sell them on the cheap to third-party... More »

Feds Consider Limits on Oil, Energy Speculation

Commodity Commission to hold hearings on 'purely financial' energy futures trading

(Newser) - Federal regulators may impose new limits on the amount of energy-futures contracts that speculators can buy, the New York Times reports, an attempt to curb severe price fluctuations in commodities like oil and natural gas. Oil prices swung from $145 per barrel last summer to $33 in December, movement some... More »

Flyover 'Red Flags' Get News Orgs Poking Around

(Newser) - At least one news organization may file a Freedom of Information Act request, demanding the manifest for Monday’s Air Force One flight over New York, according to the American Spectator’s anonymous “Prowler”—who relays suspicions that civilians or a high-level administration official was on board. “... More »

'Viking Bankers' Pillaged Iceland

How Iceland went from fishing to finance to ruin

(Newser) - The bankers who ruined Iceland’s economy possessed the mentality of its fishermen—daring, aggressive, and devoted to the “lucky catch," Michael Lewis writes in Vanity Fair. It's no surprise—after all, they were the sons of fishermen whose massive profits helped modernize Iceland in the 1970s. But... More »

Tea Bubble Bursts, Leaving Chinese Broke

Boom and bust results in a bitter fate for tea-growing heartland

(Newser) - Thousands of people in China's Yunnan province were left in the cold when the country's red-hot tea market collapsed last year, the New York Times reports. The newly affluent nation went wild for the Pu'er region's distinctive fermented tea—said to reduce cholesterol and cure hangovers—during its decade-long boom.... More »

As Food Prices Rise, Lobster Treads Water

In Maine at least, local economies dodge the perils of globalization

(Newser) - As global demand drives food prices to new highs, there’s one high-end food item whose price is in decline, Daniel Gross points out in Slate: lobster. In Portland, Maine, a pound of lobster costs slightly more than a gallon of gasoline, a ratio that historically was more like 4-to-1.... More »

Speculators Didn't Do It

Traders take blame for high oil prices, but global demand is the real culprit

(Newser) - Politicians are blaming high oil prices on an old scapegoat: speculators, writes Dean Barnett in the Weekly Standard. But if speculators were hoarding oil, it would be stockpiled, and inventories would soar. Instead, inventories remain constant. This is obvious "to anyone who took an introductory economics class," Barnett... More »

As Prices Soar, Congress Aims at Speculators

Out-of-control traders may be driving up oil, food costs, pols say

(Newser) - Congress is blaming rampant commodity speculation for rocketing gas and food prices, and berating regulators for letting it happen, the New York Times reports. Unless watchdog groups like the Commodities Futures Trading Commision crack down, Carl Levin says, "we don’t have a cop on the beat.." Joe... More »

Is There a Solar Bubble?

Parallels with now-depressed ethanol stocks sure to scare investors

(Newser) - Stocks in solar-energy outfits are enjoying a sustained rally, but investors should remember the lesson of ethanol, Mark Gongloff writes in the Wall Street Journal. Once-loved ethanol stocks are now widely scorned—mainly because the energy source will never be viable without government subsidies. Still, despite solar’s advantages, shares... More »

Congress Turns on Speculators in Oil Bubble

Legislators push regulation in effort to slow gushing prices

(Newser) - It’s not OPEC pulling oil prices to ever greater-heights—it’s speculators. That’s the theory behind the Consumer-First Energy Act, a bill sponsored by Senate Democrats aimed at clamping down on runaway oil futures trading. As stocks fall, investors are fleeing to commodities, especially oil. But even the... More »

OPEC May Boost Oil Output to Ease Prices

Cartel may meet early and backpedal on current policy

(Newser) - As crude hit $125 a barrel today, one OPEC member said the cartel may boost oil production to relieve prices, the New York Times reports. The move would conflict with OPEC's public stand that speculators, not oil supplies, have been keeping prices high. “We would consider among other options... More »

Speculation Not Driving Boom in Commodities

Surveyed economists name supply, demand as bigger factors

(Newser) - A majority of economists think the upswing in food and energy prices is due to fundamental issues of supply and demand—and not driven by speculation, a Wall Street Journal survey finds; 51% pegged demand from China and India as the chief cause of the oil boom. More »

Rice Is the New Oil

Rising food prices threaten a more serious global crisis

(Newser) - Even as the burgeoning price of oil slaps consumers at the pump, a darker global market crisis looms as rising commodities prices compound the pressures of poverty worldwide. The UN has said that spiking food prices have started "a silent tsunami threatening to plunge more than 100 million people... More »

Oil Insanity Pinned to Speculators

Observers call current market 'hysteria' — and 'bubble'

(Newser) - Crude-oil prices have doubled in recent months, a development not linked to fundamental supply and demand—but rather, observers tell Der Spiegel, to rampant speculation among investors looking for a stable buck. The prospect of recession would typically drive prices down, but analysts say a decade-old oil investment rush by... More »

20 Stories